PEDIATRIC FEEDING OT WITH BLOOMING INTO MOTHERHOOD
This blog post originally appeared on sixbranchesacupuncture.com
I’m rounding out my summer series interviewing some of the valued practitioners that we have in the Portland area. This month I interviewed Tricia Albert of Blooming Into Motherhood. Tricia is an occupational therapist and certified lactation counselor who specializes in pediatric feeding issues. She accepts insurance, practices at Rosemont Wellness Center in Portland and also does home visits. For more information you can contact her through her website at www.bloomingintomotherhood.com
What is occupational therapy as it relates to young children?
A child interacts and engages with the environment through his/her senses. A child’s “occupation” is to play and learn and become autonomous with self-help skills (including feeding). An occupational therapist provides interventions or adaptations to help your child be successful in their stage of development.
You’ve been an OT since the 90’s. How did you become interested in being a pediatric feeding specialist?
While working in early intervention, I was receiving referrals for babies and toddlers who were having feeding challenges so I decided to pursue further training. I really enjoyed the symbiotic relationship between the parent and the child during mealtimes and I was impacted by how the stress of feeding challenges impact the entire family dynamic. Further, I loved celebrating those small goals when a parent and child made progress around mealtimes. After having my first child in 2005, I was able to experience this relationship when breastfeeding and I later became a certified lactation counselor in 2008.
As an OT who specializes in pediatric feeding issues, what kinds of issues do you work with?
I work with babies and young children who are having feeding challenges that may manifest during breastfeeding, bottle-feeding, transition to solids or transition from the bottle to age appropriate cup. Children that may be considered picky eaters or have challenges transitioning or increasing food textures or may have a limited repertoire of foods can also benefit from OT. If family mealtimes are not enjoyable, then there is a feeding challenge. I also work with premature babies having feeding issues.
I also work with less common issues such as children born with cleft lip and palate or children with feeding tubes who are transitioning from tube feeding toward oral feedings.
A lot of parents have questions about starting solids. Do you have any general advice to offer around starting solids?
I developed a class on the how, when, where, and why of introducing solids to babies because I’ve found that this is one of the biggest questions parents have. The class is developed from a global perspective, looking at the current research and combining it with our knowledge of childhood development.
The biggest advice is: Allow your baby to interact with the food. They have sensory receptors on the palms of their hands that tell them if a food is dry, wet, slimy, smooth, or smooth with lumps, what shape it is, is it easy to break or hard, etc. Put away the spoons, anything can be a spoon; a favorite toy, a stick of celery or carrot, a cracker, a washcloth, etc. They have never had food before so introduction of solids is about the experience not the quantity. Watch your baby’s signs for fullness or dis-interest, but do not worry about the ounces and the amount. Your job is simply to offer a variety of tastes and textures.
What’s your take on Baby-Led Weaning?
I think baby- led weaning is a great resource and I talk about it in my Introduction to Solids Class: Baby’s First Taste. In my experience, it is dependent on the temperament of the baby. If the baby is one who actively engages with his /her environment, is social and ready for the next challenge; then Baby-Led weaning is a great framework for parents to use, especially if a parent is finding that the baby is not crazy about pre-packaged purees. If a baby is born with a reserved temperament, slow to engage and/or very observant, this baby may need slower transitions to larger textures. Introduction of solids is also dependent upon what the mother ate in utero. If a mom ate garlic, or spicy curry, or hot spicy foods then that baby is going to be ready for those stronger flavors once it’s time to have family mealtimes.
What is one thing that you want people to know about your work?
I am passionate about whole nutritious foods. My practice is holistic and I strive to meet the parents where they are at in their parenting journey to meet their family goals.
I enjoy working with families as a part of a care team. Parents can contact me directly or I work in conjunction with the child’s pediatrician for a referral for occupational therapy services.
Photo credit: The Pink Peppercorn